Horror anthologies have been around for a long time. Scary stories seem to lend themselves particularly well to quick bites. From Masters of Horror to Tales from the Crypt, some of the biggest names in the genre have put their names behind these quick narratives. The last ten years, in particular, have seen a glut of these types of movies released. The very effective Southbound and the V/H/S series come to mind. Isolation is very much in the same vein as those movies.
There was a very specific challenge in the making of this particular anthology, however. Producer Nathan Crooker challenged the directors to make movies using only the equipment and resources they had when they went in to lockdown. This included cast and crew. They also weren’t allowed to use any type of video conferencing software, such as Zoom. The results are interesting and varied. The great thing about anthology movies, as a viewer, is if you aren’t enjoying the story you’re currently watching, the promise of a new one is only a few minutes away. There are 9 stories in all, set in different locations across the U.S. and in Europe.
The general theme, as evidenced in the title, is isolation. A title card before the story informs us that the world has been stopped dead in its tracks due to a highly contagious virus that mutates every 21 days. People are staying in their homes in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus. Sound familiar?
There are two stories that center on conspiracy theorists, but the more memorable one is the London segment, “It’s Inside.” A woman’s own paranoia slowly takes over, all the while documenting it on a live stream. It’s an effective, cringe-worthy short as the woman sinks deeper into her delusions about being monitored by the government agencies that end with some horrifying and tragic results. Co-writer and co-directors Alix Austin and Keir Siewert make the most of the small timeframe and have created something that lingers with you after the next story has begun.
The Seattle set story, “Pacific Northwest,” centers on two children who have lost their mother to the virus and their father has disappeared on a mission to help the family. The two kids, a brother and a sister, seemingly have found a way to take care of themselves in the absence of their parents. This changes when two masked men come across the kids and a pursuit begins. Directed by Bobby Roe and co-written by Roe and Zack Andrews, it’s a white knuckle experience as the kids run from the masked terrorizers. It’s a well-choreographed chase with some great shots, and the kids are smart characters that are easy to cheer for.
The Miami segment, “Homebodies,” plays more like a traditional found footage horror movie. A hungry news anchor needs something new, and she sends her field journalist to investigate the home of a rich family who hasn’t been seen in days and is presumed to be sick with the virus. What he finds inside is far more terrifying, and quickly becomes a race to escape alive. Written and directed by Alexandra Neary, there are some good jump moments and scary imagery.
While there are some good, watchable pieces in the anthology, most of the other stories fail to truly scare. At worst, some of them don’t always make sense, making Isolation a sometimes frustrating viewing experience.
5 out of 10